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  • Adam Bede

    Adam Bede by George Eliot. "What can I say, I love George Eliot. It takes 150 pages or so before I can understand what the characters are saying, but once you’re in – your hooked. I do notice that George Eliot generally requires a 100-150 page commitment!" Carpenter Adam Bede is in love with Hetty Sorrel, he has a rival, in the local squire's son Arthur Donnithorne. Hetty is soon attracted by Arthur's seductive charm and they begin to meet in secret. The relationship is to have tragic consequences that reach far beyond the couple themselves, touching not just Adam Bede, but many others, not least, pious Methodist Preacher Dinah Morris.

  • Attachments

    Attachmentsby Rainbow Rowell. "Very beach-worthy. A romantic story about an Internet security professional whose job is to monitor the emails of employees in the newsroom of the paper where he works. He becomes fascinated by an ongoing email conversation between two friends and falls for one of them. A tech geek makes for an odd romantic hero, but it works."

  • Austenland

    Austenland by Shannon Hale. “A fun read about a woman obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, whose own life isn’t working out as marvelously as Elizabeth Bennet’s.  She spends 3 weeks at an Austen-themed estate in England, where everyone dresses in Regency clothing, plays Regency games and all women will be wooed by a gentleman by the end of their stay.  The lines between reality and pretend get blurred and not everyone is as they seem.  At times hilarious, it will totally get you into an Austen mood.   And it inspired me to watch Colin Firth in the BBC production, which was also fabulous.  Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale is a follow-up to the first, though you don’t have to read them in order (but it’s better if you do).  This book takes a darker twist – the characters staying at Austenland are playing a murder game, but it appears as if a real murder may have occurred.  Again, it’s hard to tell who is pretending and who is not.  The few repeat characters are such fun.”

  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

    Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie -- "I loved this book! Good review: This book was a charming vignette about a most unlikely subject: the re-education of two city boys during Mao's cultural revolution in China. The two young men are sent to a remote mountain called Phoenix of the Sky where they work like peasants in the fields and are allowed no books. But life in the remote mountains is never dull.”

  • Belle Canto

    Belle Canto by Anne Patchett. I think everyone's book club read this in 2005, but for those of you who didn't have the pleasure…

  • Best Day of Someone Else's Life

    The Best Day of Someone Else’s Life by Kerry Reichs. Looks like chick lit with an "always the bridesmaid…" theme, and, I gather, some deeper messages than the average product of the genre." Eleven weddings in eighteen months would send any sane woman either over the edge or scurrying for the altar. But as reality separates from illusion, Vi learns that letting go of someone else's story to write your own may be harder than buying the myth, but just might help her make the right choices for herself.

  • Brazzaville Beach

    Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd. "Everyone in my book club was crazy about it. The description doesn’t do it justice, as it’s a really compelling read…"

  • Commoner

    The Commonerby John Burnham Schwartz. “Interesting fictional account of the life of Empress Michiko. I love this type of story, romance, contemporary and historical fiction of a fascinating culture all in one. Well written too!”

  • Confessions of a Shopaholic

    Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella: “This and other books in the Shopaholic series are total beach reading; I just bought my fifth one.” Another reader recommended Undomestic Goddess.

  • Edenbrooke

    Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson. "For those who like romantic Austen-esque novels set in the early 19th century, this is a charming alternative to the trashy ones that dominate the genre. A young woman, bored and trying to avoid an unwanted suitor in Bath, England, joins her social climbing twin sister at a house party in the English countryside. Shenanigans and romance ensue. Fluff, but much better written and not as pornographic than the usual fare."

  • Eleanor and Park

    Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowells.  Several of you recommended this.  “This was a YA hit last year, but I only got around to reading it this year and loved it.  Two high school misfits secretly love each other.  They trade mixtapes and comic books and secretly spend time together.  He is from a loving family.  She's from a broken, abusive home.  It's sweet and lovely, and I adore the author and think she's a class act.”

  • Falling

    Falling by Jane Green. "Formulaic Jane Green fiction, which is why it’s perfect for a summer read.  British gal has heartbreak, moves from Manhattan to Westport, CT, meets rough-and-tumble single dad.  Making out ensues, as does tragedy.  Blah blah, blah …. pour some rose and crack this one open.  It’s a fun, easy read".

  • Falls

    The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates.  Several of our contributors mentioned this as a good beach read.  From Amazon:  "It is 1950 and, after a disastrous honeymoon night, Ariah Erskine's young husband throws himself into the roaring waters of Niagara Falls. Ariah, "the Widow Bride of the Falls," begins a relentless seven-day vigil in the mist, waiting for his body to be found. At her side is confirmed bachelor and pillar of the community Dirk Burnaby, who is unexpectedly drawn to her. What follows is a passionate love affair, marriage, and family -- a seemingly perfect existence. But tragedy soon takes over their lives, poisoning their halcyon years with distrust, greed, and murder."  Another great one by the same author is We Were the Mulvaneys.

  • Family Pictures

    Family Pictures by Jane Green.  “Grown up chick lit where the secret parentage of a young girl gets exposed because of her friendship with someone at school who takes her on a trip to NY to "visit colleges."  Turns out Dad had a secret life AND FAMILY.  Dun-duhn-DDUUUUNNNNNNN.  A quick, easy read and perfect for a breezy Saturday afternoon read on the front porch.

  • Gaudy Night

    Gaudy Night (and other “Lord Peter Wimsey” mysteries) by Dorothy Sayers. I’m getting into it, heeding all the Amazon reviewers’ warnings that it starts slow but gets great. But I hope to like it, as there are others in this series. Briefly, the protagonist returns to her alma mater, the fictional women’s “Shrewsbury College” at Oxford – to get to the bottom of some crimes being committed there. Written in 1936, it offers, in addition to a psychological thriller, an interesting view of a women’s college in the interwar period.

  • Hating Game

    The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.  Since this list is supposed to be “beach books,” I’m adding this enjoyable, lightweight novel.  It’s about colleagues, a man and a woman, who cordially despise one another.  Gee? I wonder what happens.  It is chick-lit, I suppose, but well-written and fun, and richer than it first appears.  Five stars for beach-worthiness.

  • I Regret Everything

    I Regret Everything: A Love Story by Seth Greenland. “ Sad, but sweet and pure.” 

  • Love Walked In

    Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos. I found this book, the first novel by poet de los Santos, extremely engaging, and I stayed up way too late finishing it. (What else is new?) It's dually narrated by Clare, an 11-year-old dealing with her mother's intense emotional difficulties, and a 32-year-old lost-ish soul named Cornelia. How their lives intersect is the crux of the story. This would be an excellent beach read. Nice writing, entertaining (if improbable) tale.

  • Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonson. "What a terrific first novel. It's about a widower in a small English town who falls for a Pakistani widow who runs a shop. The writing is lovely, as is the story. This is an author who knows and plays to her strengths. Yeah, it's a little neat, but who cares? It was a delight to read, a feast for Anglophiles. Like this bit of dialogue:

    'But he already has a title,' said Jasmina.
    'A Scottish title isn't really the same thing at all,' the Major said.
    'Especially when you buy it on the Internet,' added Roger.

    There were times I wasn't sure if I shared the author's sensibilities -- intentional perhaps. In the end, all who deserved my compassion had it."  "I listened to this on audiobook, which was excellent."

  • Maybe in Another Life

    Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. "A big tragedy happens just as a woman is making a decision. Alternating chapters tell the story of both paths she could’ve taken." After living in six different cities and holding a number of meaningless jobs, twenty-nine year old Hannah Martin still doesn't know what she wants to do with her life. She decides to move back to her hometown of LA and live with her best friend Gabby. During a night out with Gabby, Hannah reunites with her old high-school boyfriend, Ethan. Just after midnight, Hannah is faced with a decision to leave the party with her friend Gabby, or to stay with Ethan and get a ride with him later. In two parallel storylines, we see how each scenario plays out into totally different stories, with large-scale consequences for Hannah's life.